There is good coffee and absolutely abysmal coffee. Both may start with the same elements, but one cup can taste completely different to another. Freshness is the key to great tasting coffee. Here is the play by play smackdown of how to create a fantastic tasting cup of coffee.
1. Use good beans. Go to a local coffee roaster and buy only enough coffee beans to last you a week. Buying fresh beans is one key to good taste. When you buy beans make sure the beans are all relatively the same size and same color for even grinding and flavor. If you buy beans from the supermarket at minimum, check to see if the beans are Arabica.
2. Use filtered water. Even if your coffee maker has a charcoal filter it is best to start off with filtered water to ensure there are no impurities like chlorine or minerals to alter the real taste. Use cold water.
3. For the best tasting coffee ensure you have a coffee maker which can brew up to 95 to 98 degrees Celsius, just off the boil. This temperature is the optimal temperature to get the best flavor out of the bean.
4. The grind. Only grind as much coffee as you are going to need for that moment. The finer you grind, the more flavor you will receive. The grind has to be even to ensure even taste. If you are using a cheap coffee maker you should only use a medium grind to avoid the over-extraction. However, grind to your equipment's recommendations.
5. Use two level tablespoons of coffee per cup. If you are making more than 10-cups of coffee you should use the strength meter on its highest position possible to allow more water to penetrate the grounds evenly.
6. Use unbleached coffee filters or ensure your permanent filter is free from all coffee sludge. When it comes to coffee, cleanliness is next to Godliness.
7. Stir the pot. Once the coffee is brewed, stir the pot to infuse the taste.
At bare minimum, these steps should always be used when making coffee. Think about the farmer's in the field, if you skip a step are you doing their hard work justice? On a selfish note, missing one of those steps will affect the taste of your coffee, even slightly. Other things to make a great cup of coffee are:
1. Always ensure your equipment is clean. Old coffee sludge can really change the taste of coffee. Polident can clean your equipment to almost new.
2. NEVER reuse coffee grinds.
3. NEVER grind beans just taken out of the freezer. Let them thaw first.
4. Always store coffee in air-tight containers away from direct sunlight.
5. NEVER leave the coffee on a heater for longer than ? an hour. It gets a burnt taste and smell.
6. Always warm your cup and never reheat coffee.
The best coffee starts with fresh beans, clean equipment and clean water. Adhering to at least those three guidelines will give you great tasting coffee. Everything else is just gravy.
Kate Simpson is a freelance writer who contributes for the Coffee Bean Queen - http://www.coffeebeanqueen.com/ ? a website offering information on everything from coffee to coffee making, capresso coffee and more.